For the last week, I've been working out many of the kinks in the game and taking some time to update the art. I am happy with the progress so far, but I have a long way to go.
I'm using an app called Trello to manage all of my tasks and bugs. It's pretty satisfying to fill out and label a card, then drag it into the appropriate column. You should check it out if you have an extensive todo list (it beats paper).
Next week, I'll be going to Steam Dev Days, a small Seattle conference for indie devs. I was invited thanks to Against the Wall getting greenlit on Steam. No clue what to expect from it, but I'll keep you posted.
My time spent on the art was to give things a flatter, slightly more abstracted look. Check out this comparison:
For the game's reticule, I am now using a single dot in the middle of the screen rather than a crosshair. This dot has a shader that inverts the colors behind it, like the crosshair in Minecraft. When pointing at a dark surface, the reticule becomes white, and when pointing at a bright surface like the wall, it becomes black. This is so that it is almost always visible.
Oh, and now when you look directly at the sun, the sun beams grow and fill up the sky, a blinding white light. Just a little "game feel" thing that I quickly put together.
Okay, the biomes are just not working for me. They clutter the wall in random props, slow down world generation, look ugly from a distance, and feel mechanical and out-of-place. Generally, I prefer the big, empty bone-white wall as an imposing edifice to climb. The plan now is to manually place the biome chunks in areas around each town to provide those locations some context. Perhaps I can make procedurally-placed biomes very rare and small. Eh. Right now I should focus on the core game experience, then I can come back to the peripheral stuff.
Or rather, wand-bobbing. I don't move the head from side-to-side like I did in early builds, just the wand in the player's hand. There are a couple reasons for this: first, when aiming at something, any movement would change the target as the player's head swayed left or right. Second, this kind of bobbing can induce motion sickness in some people.
I'n Portal 2, the gun is semi-fixed in front of the player and moves from left to right using a sine-wave. The exact same "animation" is the jump/falling animation. They also have the gun interpolate its position and rotation to match a point in front of the player, making it sway slightly when the player moves from side to side or jumps/lands. Half-Life 2 guns work the same way. Basically, they use a few very cheap tricks to get across the feeling of head movement. It makes the gun feel less stiff, taking a second or so to catch up with the player's adjusted direction.
So the wand bobs instead of the player's camera. I tried the interpolation trick, de-parenting it from the camera and having it move to the position of an invisible object in front of the player. However, the wand kind-of jerks around as it tries to reach the correct position/rotation, and can disappear if the player spins fast enough. I think that I can fake it by keeping the wand parented and faking the interpolation. I do not want to spend too much time on this, but really, the wand feels very stiff right now, like a mounted steady-cam.
This week I'll be moving through my backlog of issues. QA for this game has been and continues to be an enormous task.
I've had pretty much only art and tech days for this past week, and not content. I think that tomorrow, I'll whip up a placeholder collectible item. I also want to have interactive bonfires and fireplaces. That might be a nice touch.